Saturday, 22 September, 2018

China Frees Wife of Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Albert Ho Albert Ho
Melinda Barton | 12 July, 2018, 16:21

Friends of Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize victor Liu Xiaobo who died in detention last July, say she has boarded a flight to Germany after years of being detained.

"When you come, my eyes are filled with tears; and when you leave, you leave grains of sand", Liu Xia wrote in 1992 to Liu Xiaobo, who would later go on to become her husband.

Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer in July 2017 in Chinese custody, having been jailed in 2009 for inciting subversion. Liu Xia traveled from Beijing to his prison in Liaoning Province to inform him of the news, and shortly upon her return was placed under house arrest. "And they have taken revenge on her, which is absolutely bad".

Others said Beijing might be trying to curry favour with Western powers ahead of an EU-China summit next week, as both Europe and China fight trade battles with the United States. Her forced solitude was an emblem of Chinese cruelty toward a wife whose husband was ripped away from her for the crime of expressing his views, and then-nearly exactly a year ago-allowed to die in prison while denied access to potentially lifesaving medical treatment overseas.

When Liu Xiaobo died a year ago, Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged the Chinese government to let Liu Xia and her brother leave the country for Germany.

"Liu Xia. left Beijing at noon on a Finnair flight from Beijing to Berlin", veteran political journalist Gao Yu said via Twitter on.

Liu Xia was put under house arrest without trial after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

The Chinese government has confirmed the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has left China for Germany, saying Liu Xia is seeking medical treatment.

Qin Yongmin, 64, was first jailed as a "counter-revolutionary" from 1981-1989 and has already spent a total of 22 years in prison.

The U.S. State Department said it welcomed the news that Chinese authorities "allowed her to leave China as she long wished", but said it remains concerned about her brother and hopes he can join her in Germany. "I can only do what I have always done, and be patient until the situation changes", said Liu Xia. "I hope from now on her life is peaceful and happy".

Several well-known human rights activists and global humanitarian organizations have condemned the Chinese government's treatment of Liu Xia.

The reports of Liu Xia's departure come as Li wraps up a two-day visit to Germany.

"Perhaps the Chinese government realised that as the anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death approaches, keeping his widow under house arrest simply shows the Chinese to be petty, cruel and vindictive - not the image it's trying to project to the world", said Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch.

Liu Xia's departure was "wonderful news" but harassment of her family remained a risk to her freedom to criticise China, Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said.

Chinese authorities had consistently maintained Liu was free but imposed severe restrictions on her movement and she was under constant surveillance. Some have speculated that Merkel pushed for Liu's release when she visited Beijing in May, where she met the wives of two detained Chinese lawyers.

Beijing has always insisted that she is a free citizen. The last time China let a high-profile political prisoner leave was in 2012, when blind activist Chen Guangcheng was allowed to fly to NY after escaping from house arrest and hiding for six days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Hua denied any connection between Li Keqiang's trip and Liu's release.

Chinese officials told reporters she was free to do what she wished, but Western diplomats and the press were effectively banned from visiting her.

In order to achieve all those trade goals, China apparently made concession on human right issues this time. "Dying is easier than living - there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death".

Diplomats have said that authorities had continued to monitor Liu Xia after the death of her husband and she had only been able to meet and speak to friends and family in pre-arranged phone calls and visits.